Pique n yer interest 

Afford this town

Page 2 of 3

I also took a good look at my expenses and made some tough changes. I started bringing sandwiches for lunch every single day, saving around $35 every week. I made dinners with less expensive ingredients, and cut my grocery bill in half. I cut down on the partying, and instead tried to have friends in as much as possible. I didn’t buy anything — clothes, gear, electronics — unless it was on sale and I knew it was going to last.

All the little things I did started to add up. I was finally spending less than I was bringing in and could both pay off my debts and save a little extra every month for the future.

Last week I participated in a Whistler Forum discussion on affordability in the resort, and the impact of the higher prices we pay for goods and services to live here. While there was no shortage of ideas how to make resort life cheaper for residents and seasonal employees, one of the themes that kept coming up was personal responsibility — the cost of the poor choices we make, and how little we actually understand about money. I learned those lessons the hard way, but maybe we can teach residents not to make the same mistakes.

Whistler has been called the most expensive town in Canada, but I really don’t find it to be that much worse than Vancouver when it comes to paying rent and utilities. Buying into market housing isn’t possible for most of us, but Whistler Housing Authority properties are actually less expensive than comparable properties in the city. Transportation costs about the same as Vancouver, but can be cheaper if you commute by bike and bus. And our groceries, while expensive, are no more expensive than what you pay at boutique grocery stores in the city.

Our biggest Whistler-specific expense is recreation — bikes, skis, snowboards, all-weather clothing — and a legitimate need to have the best of everything. Considering that recreation is the reason most of us are here in the first place, those expenses are easy to justify.

In a lot of ways it’s never been more affordable to be a local, as the local economy of recent years has resulted in more discount stores, more sales at grocery stores and retail outlets, more events like the Turkey Sale, cheaper food and beer at restaurants, lots of locals-only and seasonal deals, and viable second-hand options like the Re-Use-It Centre, Fine Line, the bike swap, and the ski swap. Nobody I know pays full price for anything.

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